So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
I love pretty much anything Jon Ronson writes, so I was very excited when I found this galley in the Indie box at work.
The Psychopath Test was the book that turned me on to reading nonfiction, and I was drawn to it because the topic of psychopaths has always fascinated me (and many other people, I think, considering how many books have been written about them). The focus of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is, obviously, public shaming, which was not a topic that I found as inherently interesting as psychopaths, and it was not something I had really thought much about at all. It was kind of just something that happened.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a journey into the lives of people who have been destroyed by the force of the public shaming. There’s a popular pop-science author who was caught plagiarizing and fabricating, two women who made the mistake of telling bad jokes on social media, and a host of other remorseful (and not so much) characters who feel that they’ve been persecuted by the forces of the internet, the modern day angry mob.
It’s a fascinating look into the power of the internet – and the power of US, because we are the internet. The court of public opinion is swift, and the existence of social media like Twitter and viral news websites like Buzzfeed and Gawker has given us an unprecedented power to find and attack the people we disagree with.
What makes the book special is Ronson’s writing style. His writing is never dull – he’s objective and factual, to be sure, but he also makes it funny in a dry, British way, which makes the material that much more attainable. There’s a quote on the back from when Ronson was on The Daily Show promoting The Psychopath Test, and Jon Stewart says, “You have developed something … it’s almost like a new category of investigative satire. You go and you explore with great intellectual curiosity, but you find a way to make it very funny.” That’s a perfect summary for Ronson’s work, and the reason he’s one of my favorite writers.
Read it read it read it! I would love to hear other people’s thoughts and reactions to it.